Clinical Procedures

Treatment of Peripheral Arterial Disease


limb-savingPeripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or clogged with plaque (cholesterol), reducing blood flow to the legs. PAD can lead to leg pain when walking, disability and even amputation. Blocked leg arteries can be a red flag that other arteries, including those in the heart and brain, may also be blocked – increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Understanding and treating PAD begins by first learning the risk factors for the disease. Unfortunately, many Americans show no symptoms for this silent disease yet up to 120,000 limbs are amputated every year due to poor blood circulation.

Who is at Risk for PAD?

The chance of having PAD increases as you get older. People over age 50 have a higher risk for PAD, but the risk is  further increased if you:

  • Smoke or used to smoke
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have abnormal blood cholesterol levels
  • Are of African-American ethnicity
  • Have had heart disease, a heart attack or stroke

What are the Signs and Symptoms of PAD?

Many people with PAD do not have obvious symptoms. But some people with the disease may have:

  • Leg muscle pain that occurs with walking and goes away with rest; this symptom is called claudication
  • Foot or toe pain at rest that often disturbs sleep
  • Skin wounds or ulcers on the feet or toes that are slow to heal (non-healing for 8-12 weeks)

Many Lifeline Vascular Access centers perform the following procedures to treat Peripheral Arterial Disease:

  • PAD evaluation
  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI) testing
  • Lower extremity angiography
  • Angioplasty and stenting
  • Endovascular atherectomy